We really do love a call story here at the Pink Heart Society and this one is really hot off the press. Please welcome the newest member of the Harlequin Mills & Boon author family ........ Sabrina Philips.
I’m Sabrina Philips, and I’m delighted and overwhelmed to say I’ve just sold my first novel “Valenti’s One-Month Mistress” to Harlequin Mills & Boon.
Here’s my journey leading up to “the call”!
I first fell in love with Modern Romance when I was thirteen and volunteering in a charity shop on Saturday afternoons. I was sorting through a stack of pre-loved books and came across Susan Napier’s In Bed With The Boss. I starting reading it under the counter there and then, and that was it.
I started to think about writing romance about eight years later when I finished my degree in English Literature and Classical Studies in 2005. I loved every minute of the reading and writing involved, and almost did a masters degree in Women’s fiction - but I wanted to get married and buy a home with my fiancé more than I wanted the debt, so I promised myself I’d get a job and do some form of writing in my spare time to satisfy my love of it. I also finally found myself free to read whatever I wanted (rather than whatever was on syllabus), and of course I went back to Mills & Boon.
I starting writing as a ‘hobby’ when I had spare time and without much of a plan, until I went on a writing course run by Sharon Kendrick in Scotland for a week in autumn 06. Aside from hundreds of useful tips, she made me realise that if I was serious about writing I had to approach it professionally rather than as a hobby, which for me meant making time to write every day alongside my day job instead of the odd page here and there. I also realised how much I wanted it. More than I realised.
When I got home I was religious about writing ever night after work, and in 3 months I completed a full manuscript and sent it off to Richmond and waited and waited (almost patiently). 10 months later I was making the dinner and decided to check my email whilst waiting for the potatoes to cook and there was a perfectly innocuous looking email from editor Joanne Carr just sitting there. Thud. The verdict? It wasn’t suitable for publication but they liked my voice and she recommended I revise it – with a couple of pages of suggestions. At first I felt gutted, and then as it sank in I realised that getting a ‘good’ rejection on a first go was not bad at all, in fact, it was great, (no matter how much family and friends outside the business nodded doubtfully when I told them that.)
I spent the next two and half months reclusively poring over my manuscript (Boxing Day, New Year's Day - great - whole days off work to write!) and learned a huge, huge amount from the revision advice, and also was forced to confront there a hell of a lot I still had to learn (and still do). It was hard – much harder than writing the first draft. I sent it off in January 08 (are other people insane enough to kiss their manuscripts goodbye for luck before putting it in the postbox or is that just me?) And then I told myself I was bound not to hear anything for months and months and to concentrate on my wedding (coming up in May) and forget about it.
Until I was working in at my day job on Friday 7th March (only 6 weeks later!) and my mobile rang. I thought it was probably my wayward wedding florist. But the voice said it was Joanne from Harlequin Mills & Boon, and I was just like ‘Oh hello’, and then – thud. It hit me. Did the voice just say Mills & Boon? And then suddenly I thought – they don’t call unless you’ve done it. And I only bloomin’ had!
After being told they wanted to buy my book (!) if I could make a few last tweaks, I ran out of my office, screamed ‘they’re publishing my book’ to my two startled work colleagues, jumped up in the air and subsequently hit my head on the doorframe (but was too excited to notice the pain).
Then of course I rang my fiancé, (who to my colleagues’ amusement, said he had never heard me sound so excited) and everyone I knew.
And I can confirm that over a month later it still hasn’t sunk in!
“Valenti’s One-Month Mistress” by Sabrina Philips is due out in Feb 2009.
Here’s a little teaser about the book:
Six years ago, Italian billionaire Dante Valenti pushed Faye Matteson’s bewitching body to the back of his mind and offered her the career opportunity of a lifetime. But she soon revealed that the only experience she was interested in was ridding herself of her virginity – then disappearing with another man!
Now she’s back, and begging him for money! Dante has no intention of giving her a penny towards her failing family business, but when he sees her again he realises that taking the restaurant isn’t quite going to be satisfying enough – he’ll take her as his mistress for a month to boot!